10 things for CFOs to know about CAUTIs

With financial penalties being assigned to hospitals for healthcare-associated infection rates, healthcare CFOs are increasingly looking more closely at their organizations' infection rates and what they can do to keep them down.

Here are 10 things hospital CFOs should know about catheter-associated urinary tract infections, one of the most common HAIs in the U.S. (Click here for what CFOs should know about MRSA).

1. Urinary tract infections are the most common type of HAI reported to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Healthcare Safety Network, and about 75 percent of UTIs are associated with a catheter.[1]

2. These preventable infections can be deadly: When looking at the combined mortality rate for all measured HAIs, CAUTIs represent 13 percent (whereas central line-associated bloodstream infections represent 31 percent, for instance).[2]

3. A CAUTI is associated with an excess length of stay of two to four days.[3]

4. The excess cost per patient associated with a CAUTI is approximately $1,000, and CAUTIs make up 2 percent of excess costs in U.S. hospitals associated with all HAIs. 2

5. Nationally, CAUTIs are associated with an increased cost of $400 million to $500 million annually.3

6. CAUTIs are no longer reimbursed by CMS as of 2015, so the excess costs associated with this HAI are no longer covered by Medicare or Medicaid.2

7. CAUTI rates are examined as part of CMS' Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program. This means if a hospital has a high rate of CAUTIs, as well as other HAIs, it can face a 1 percent reduction in Medicare payments as part of the program.

8. CAUTIs are one of the only HAIs that have not seen improved rates in recent years. The "National and State Healthcare-associated Infection Progress Report" released by the CDC this year showed a 6 percent increase in CAUTIs since 2009, based on data submitted to the NHSN.

9. CAUTIs can be prevented. The CDC estimates that 17 percent to 69 percent of CAUTIs can be stymied with recommended infection control measures.[4]

10. There are several free or low-cost patient safety tools hospitals can access that aim to help lower the rate of CAUTIs. Find some here.


[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. January 20, 2015. Catheter-associated Urinary Tract Infections. http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/ca_uti/uti.html

[2] Becker's Hospital Review. Patient Shield Companies. May 12, 2015. The Tru Cost of HAIs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QyKhmeFeL8

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Catheter-associated Urinary Tract Infection (CAUTI) Toolkit. http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/pdfs/toolkits/CAUTItoolkit_3_10.pdf

[4] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. December 29, 2009. Guideline for Prevention of Catheter-associated Urinary Tract Infections, 2009. http://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/cauti/005_background.html

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